Family of fallen soldier encourages others to ‘live like John’ - We Are The Mighty
Military Life

Family of fallen soldier encourages others to ‘live like John’

The family of a fallen soldier says his legacy will transcend his life.

Army Spc. John “Alex” Pelham was killed in Afghanistan in 2014. He was 22 years old. Despite the overwhelming grief and devastation that accompanied his loss, his family is committed to inspiring others through an ongoing initiative to live — and give — like John. 

His father, Wendall, had a conversation with his son two days before his death, sharing that after he hung up the phone, he knew he’d never see John again. 

“There are warriors that God put on the earth to take care of us,” he said. “At his funeral I said, ‘John would be bigger in death than he ever was in life,’ and he is … as we come up on seven years since his death, that statement was prophetic.”

Family of fallen soldier encourages others to ‘live like John’

Described as tall and strikingly handsome, John was a magnet to the people around him. That pull would only intensify after he died. 

“He was the epitome of the Green Beret moto ‘De oppresso liber,’ of freeing the oppressed. John did that all the way through school, taking care of the bullies,” Wendall said with a smile. 

John’s grandfather, a 30-year veteran of the Army, was his idol. Wendall said his son sought to emulate him. Though John was successfully playing college baseball after high school, he left it all behind for a deep conviction to serve. 

In July 2011, John enlisted as an intelligence analyst, leading him to become a coveted soldier with Special Forces. 

John was assigned to 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne) out of Fort Bragg, North Carolina. His skills as an analyst saved hundreds of lives, long after he was gone, his father said. After an ambush attack, he was killed alongside another soldier. On Feb. 12, 2014, at 4:34 p.m. in Oregon, Wendall’s wife called him at work to say two soldiers in dress blues were on their porch. He knew immediately John was gone.

But to his family, John’s still here. He’s in every facet of what they do and how they approach life. His legacy also lives on at Fort Bragg, with his name inscribed at multiple locations.

“I get to live a part of my son’s life through mine because of his example of what a true servant looks like,” Wendall said through tears. “My son, through his service, has taught me how to be beyonda great leader. My level of empathy and care and love for fellow man is 180 degrees different now.”

Live Like John Military Families Magazine
 
Pictured: The family of fallen soldier John.

After months of healing following John’s death, his family organized a racquetball tournament in his honor. The sport was one of John’s favorite pastimes and something that brought him joy. Wendall realized they needed somewhere to put the money raised, so they formed a nonprofit organization. The name? Live Like John. The mission is to support military charities, veterans, and other Gold Star families. 

This doesn’t mean follow John’s more than obvious path, which was headed toward completing the “Q” course and becoming a Green Beret. But rather efforts to service others, community, and humanity. 

Family of fallen soldier encourages others to ‘live like John’

“I learned a long time ago that to be a great leader — you have to be a servant,” Wendall said.

He encourages everyone to engage in a mission of service, but above all else, teach children to do the same. John is described as a loving man, son, brother, nephew, and friend. He was also an American soldier whose life was lived with such honor and dedication that it has had ripple effects far beyond his death.

The foundation has brought immense healing, but there are still hard days for the Pelham family: Memorial Day, Fourth of July, Veterans Day, the holiday season and then, the day John died.

“Your body already knows. It’s already telling me, the day, it’s coming,” Wendall said. 

He adds that for those seeking to say “thank you for your service” to service members and veterans, it should be done with meaning. 

“Those words said repetitiously lose their luster after a while. You can sip a Starbucks on a cold winter day or get a suntan on a beach in Maui while traveling the world with no restriction, because you are a citizen of the United States of America,” he said. “What’s that worth? Do you understand what it is worth to the families who have given their loved ones’ lives for this freedom?” 

Live Like John Military Families Magazine

Fallen soldier highway sign

Spc. John Pelham will be among a group of service members honored this year through The Unquiet Professional’s 2021 Virtual Memorial Mile. Visit www.theunquietprofessional.org/tupmile for updates on how you can support efforts to honor the fallen. 

Articles

This is why Marines say flying a Harrier is like ‘riding a dragon’

With the capability to carry a variety of weapons such as air-to-air missiles, precision guided bombs, and a 25mm machine gun that can fire up to 3,600 rounds per minute, the Harrier is the Marine Corps’ top choice when they need close air support where airfields are hard to come by.


“On my first flight, my instructor told me it was going to be like riding a dragon,” says Marine Capt. Brady Cummins during an interview. “He was definitely telling the truth.”

The AV-8B Harrier II was the first Marine tactical aircraft to arrive in the Persian Gulf for Operation Desert Storm in the early ’90s.

Related: How the Sea Harrier defeated more superior fighters during the Falklands War

According to Boeing, the U.S. took 86 Harriers, flew 3,380 combat sorties and totaled 4,112 hours of combat flight time during the 42-day war.

Family of fallen soldier encourages others to ‘live like John’
The Harrier II jet demonstrated it’s effectiveness during Operation Desert Storm. (Source: Naval Technology”

These aerial marvels are known for their fixed-wing vertical short takeoff and landing — also known as “V/STOL” — which makes the Harrier one of the most maneuverable in service. The Harrier’s engines produce 23,000 pounds of thrust, allowing the aircraft to hover like a helicopter or launch forward at near-supersonic speeds.

At only 47 feet long and weighing 15,000 pounds when empty, this combat jet is approximately half the size of other modern fighter jets.

Also Read: The Marine Corps’ love-hate relationship with the AV-8 Harrier

Check out the Smithsonian Channel‘s video to see the Marine piloted Harrier soar like a medieval dragon for yourself.

(Smithsonian Channel, YouTube)
Military Life

Why May 2nd, 2011, was one of the greatest days in the military

Shortly after 1 a.m. PKT on May 2nd, 2011, Operation Neptune Spear was a go and the founder of al-Qaeda and mastermind behind the September 11th attacks, Osama bin Laden, was killed by SEAL Team Six in a CIA-led and 160th Special Operations Airborne Regiment-assisted mission.


President Obama announced the success to the world at 11:35 p.m. EST on Sunday, May 1st. The world cheered and the expression “tears of joy” doesn’t even come close to conveying the magnitude of emotions felt by the entire military community. To post-9/11 troops, this was our equivalent of V-J Day.

Family of fallen soldier encourages others to ‘live like John’
No tickertape parades. No randomly grabbing nurses and kissing them. But we did party a lot.
(Photo by Lt. Victor Jorgensen)

I was still in the Army at this point and this is my story.

It was 10:35 p.m. CST when we got the news at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. My unit had just returned from Afghanistan two months prior and I was still living off-post in an apartment I shared with my ex-wife. I get a text from my NCO that read, simply, “turn on the news.”

Out of context, you always assume the worst. I was wrong. I caught the last part of President Obama’s speech but the ticker that ran across the bottom of the screen read, “Osama bin Laden Killed” and I couldn’t focus on anything else.

My phone started blowing up saying everyone was basically throwing a party — despite the fact that it was a Sunday night before a 12-mile ruck march. Not a single soldier in that barracks was sober that night. Music was blasting, horns were being honked, everyone was screaming, and the MPs joined in instead of crashing the party.

A few hours later, at PT, the formation reeked of alcohol. Our normally salty first sergeant didn’t complain and broke the news to us (as if any of us hadn’t yet heard) with a big ol’ grin. He was one of the first conventional soldiers to step foot in Afghanistan back in 2001. Almost ten years later and he’s barely standing on his feet. Ruck march was cancelled and we were released until work call at 0900.

At the motor pool, no one was actually servicing their vehicles. This was the one day the E-4 Mafia got its way. Everyone just kicked the tires and checked off that it was good to go. No one cared enough to work… except the motor sergeant who, understandably, lost his sh*t (but took it in stride).

Family of fallen soldier encourages others to ‘live like John’
I was commo. It’s not like we did motor pool maintenance anyways.
(Weapons of Meme Destruction)

No one was training back in the company area. We just shared war stories to the new guys that didn’t deploy with us, stories we hadn’t heard on deployment, and stories we’ve all heard a million times.

Keeping in line with how we spent our day, joyfully sharing stories with one another, let us know in the comment section about what you were doing on May 2nd, 2011.

Military Life

6 activities in the infantry that are more common than combat

People often associate the military with fighting wars, which makes complete sense. The infantry, which is the spearhead of the military, is the primary combat job. So, one might would think infantrymen are in every country upon which the United States is dropping bombs. The truth is: they’re not. In fact, chances are, they’re stuck on a boat, an island, or in a porta-john waiting for the next war to pop off so they can play in the big leagues.

Being in the infantry between wars is a lot like being on a professional sports team that only ever goes to practice. Realistically, the United States has been at war for quite some time, but what people don’t know is that infantry probably aren’t involved in that war.

Here’s what they’re doing instead:


Family of fallen soldier encourages others to ‘live like John’

It might be accurate to assess military life as 80% waiting. Hell, most of the time you spend in boot camp is in lines.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. A. J. Van Fredenberg)

Waiting

Whether it’s in a line, in the field, or in a barracks room, the infantry is stuck waiting. Always. Waiting. Anthony Swafford, author of Jarhead, truthfully wrote, “…we wait, this is our labor.” If that doesn’t define “peacetime” military life, what does? The fact of the matter is that you’ll spend most of your time waiting for something and no one knows what that something is, not even your command.

Family of fallen soldier encourages others to ‘live like John’

You’ll probably spend more time holding a broom than a rifle, honestly.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Caitlin Brink)

Cleaning

Everyone knows veterans are extremely organized and are good at keeping things clean. That’s because we spend so much of our time cleaning everything that it becomes habit. In the military, you even clean things that can’t be cleaned. In fact, most of what you do is polish turds, considering military barracks (specifically those of the Marine Corps) haven’t been renovated since the day they were built.

Family of fallen soldier encourages others to ‘live like John’

You’ll get used to smoking in your free time.

(Rally Point)

Smoking

This isn’t for everyone, but quite a few people pick up the habit because it’s a great time killer. Remember how we said you spend 80% of your career waiting? Well, if you pick up smoking, you’ll bring that down to 70% and use that other 10% to smoke as you combat the boredom of waiting.

Family of fallen soldier encourages others to ‘live like John’

This will probably be what kills you first.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by LCpl Andre Heath)

In a safety stand-down

Whether it’s a three-hour lecture on sexual assault, the importance of wearing a seat belt, or why the desert tortoise is sacred at the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center (a.k.a. Twentynine Palms), you’re going to sit in the base theater for an entire day listening to one commander “piggy back” off another.

Family of fallen soldier encourages others to ‘live like John’

Don’t worry, there will be porta-johns in-country.

‘Appreciating’ adult films

If you don’t pick up smoking, you might instead find yourself killing time in a porta-john doing this. If you’re at Twentynine Palms during the summer (or in general), you might even challenge yourself to see if you can complete your “mission” before you pass out in the porta-john.

Just to be clear, this will probably be in addition to killing your lungs.

Family of fallen soldier encourages others to ‘live like John’

You’ll probably play a video game where you portray someone doing your job, too.

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Ash Severe)

Video games

Remember what we said about waiting in a barracks room? This is what you’ll probably do during that time. It doesn’t matter if you’re in a leadership position or if you’re a boot rifleman (if you’re a boot, you should study instead), you’ll be killing time by playing video games. When you’re taking a break from that, you’ll probably be doing #3 or #5 instead.

Just make sure one of the first things you do in your unit is buy a small T.V. and game system or a highly efficient laptop. Even if you go on a combat deployment, you might be able to take it with you to kill time between patrols or other duties.

Military Life

6 interesting facts about American Indians in the US military

America’s first warriors are also the first to defend America. As a people, American Indians are disproportionately dedicated to the defense of the United States; yet, as it has been pointed out many times, they don’t always get a fair shake.

Related video:

 

But they deserve our respect. Our warrior culture starts with their warrior culture. No other group in America gave so many of their own as selflessly.

1. American Indians enlist in wildly disproportionate numbers.

During the height of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Natives were 1.7 percent of the U.S. military, more than twice their population proportion of the entire United States, which is .8 percent.

Family of fallen soldier encourages others to ‘live like John’

During WWII, the War Department estimated that if every racial segment of the American population enlisted like Native Americans did, they wouldn’t have needed a draft.

2. They served in greater numbers than any other group since the founding of America.

Per capita, more American Indians serve than any other ethnic group. This includes during World War I, when they weren’t even citizens of the United States.

Family of fallen soldier encourages others to ‘live like John’

Depending on which state they were in, some tribal members weren’t able to vote until 1957.

3. American Indians claim 27 Medal of Honor recipients.

Recipients include legendary Marine Corps fighter ace and original Flying Tigers pilot “Pappy” Boyington.

Family of fallen soldier encourages others to ‘live like John’

The first American Indian Medal of Honor was awarded to Co-Rux-Te-Chod-Ish, a Pawnee scout accidentally killed by his own unit. They then spelled his name wrong on his award citation.

4. One of the Iwo Jima flag raisers was an American Indian.

He was one of the six men photographed by Joe Rosenthal on Iwo Jima. Many know this story from Clint Eastwood’s film “Flags of Our Fathers.” Johnny Cash sang a song about him.

5. Unlike other Vietnam vets, American Indians were welcomed back as heroes.

Call it a true “warrior culture.” Despite the ongoing anti-war protests, whenever American Indians in the U.S. military returned home from Vietnam they were welcomed as warriors.

Family of fallen soldier encourages others to ‘live like John’

Some Vietnam vets were spit on and called “baby killers,” even if they were drafted. While 90 percent of American Indians who fought in Vietnam were volunteers, their people still welcomed them back.

6. The first American Indian female to die in combat was killed in Iraq.

Lori Piestewa of Arizona was from the Hopi tribe. She was killed by Iraqi forces during the 2003 invasion of Iraq. She died in the ambush in which Jessica Lynch’s unit was captured.

Family of fallen soldier encourages others to ‘live like John’

She was wounded in the head near Nasiriyah and died from her wounds due to poor electricity in Iraqi civilian hospitals. Arizona’s Squaw Peak was renamed Piestewa Peak in her honor.

Military Life

5 ways military recruiters can boost their quotas

Being a recruiter is harder now than it was during the surge. Post 9/11 recruiting stations even had to turn people away because every seat was full – plus a waiting list. The challenges of keeping numbers up are influenced by decisions in the Capitol. However, accomplishing the mission at the ground level is paramount regardless of politics. Its your career. Here are 5 ways military recruiters can boost their quotas.

1. Don’t use high pressure tactics

First of all, they don’t work. On the off chance that they do, the effects are only temporary. You’re not the top salesman in Glen Gary Glen Ross. Human beings are complex creatures but once they figure out that you’re attempting to manipulate them – all bets are off. They’re gone forever because, at the center, trust has been betrayed. Every branch has core values. Intimidation and deception are not found in any of them.

Family of fallen soldier encourages others to ‘live like John’
Tech. Sgt. Mubarak Rashid, 319th Recruiting Squadron enlisted accessions recruiter, recruits at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, and has his sights aimed at achieving the highest honor a recruiter can receive in the Air Force: the Gold Recruiter Badge.

These young minds are coming to you, the recruiter, as the first mentor they will ever have in their military career. Your actions will shape the perception they have of your service branch. What you do and say when someone is deciding to sign the dotted line will impact them for the rest of their lives. Your branch and the lifestyle it offers should be enough to get you the troops you need. If someone has been in the service for years, it’s easy to forget that the military is cool. Lean on that.

2. Pedigree is a positive indicator

Communication is key to identifying potential candidates to recruit. When you hear that someone has family ties to the military it is a good indicator that they may have considered following in their footsteps. Tread lightly. Those same family members may be your biggest obstacle because of their experience in the service. For example, with Marines it’s 50/50. You may get someone who’s parent is a motivator and would be proud to have them join the Corps. You may also get hard charger who charged hard so his pups would not have to charge at all. Communicate and find some common ground. Never underestimate the influence of a parent.

3. Make sure they’re looking at the right branch

Of course, rivalries between recruiters is a thing, especially if the offices share a building. The potential recruit may be interested into more high speed, low drag occupation may be better suited in the Marine Corps or the Army. Every branch offers the Post 9/11 GI bill, so, if they’re interested in post service benefits offer an MOS that will help them post college too. The Air Force is highly technical and the Navy is the best branch when it comes to medical fields. Law enforcement and federal agencies love combat related experience or intelligence prior service skills.

Everybody gets out eventually, ask them about the future, and show them how the military can help them get there. Find allies in other recruiting offices and trade candidates when appropriate.

4. Make them study

The ASVAB should not be taken lightly. Let them know that passing is not enough, what if they want to change their jobs later in their career? The hassle of being on active duty and studying after one has been out of school for years is not fun. If you get a good enough score on the ASVAB and GT score off the bat, let them know they’ll never have to worry about it ever again.

Also advise them to take the SAT for the same reason. When I got out of the service my SAT score from high school was pretty good. I was able to enroll in college because it fell within window that I wouldn’t have to retake it. Their future self will thank them for it – and you too.

5. Be a straight shooter

Family of fallen soldier encourages others to ‘live like John’
Provost recruited Schoon in 2014 and is now his division leading petty officer as a recruiter. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Christopher Lindahl)

You don’t have to say every single pro and con about the branch but at least be straight when it comes to the military occupational specialty. My recruiter told me I would be a better fit in comm due to the fact I was already CCNA certified and had college credits in the field. I pushed for infantry yet he wouldn’t let me sign as an 0311 until I thought about it for a month. I was going to enlist, no doubt about that, but he looked out for me by putting my needs ahead of his own. That’s what Marines do, we look out for each other. At that time I didn’t have my Eagle, Globe and Anchor but I knew that integrity was exactly what I was looking for in the Corps.

Articles

These are weird Navy traditions and their meanings

A recent Navy Times article notes that the crew of the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Ross (DDG 71) joined the “Order of the Blue Nose” — a distinction reserved for ships and crew that crossing the Arctic Circle.


Most people have not heard of such a mystical Navy order, and there are others that are equally shrouded in seafaring lore, according to a list maintained by the Naval History and Heritage Command.

That list includes both well-known orders and not-so-well known orders. They are for notable feats — and in some cases, dubious ones.

Family of fallen soldier encourages others to ‘live like John’
Command Master Chief of aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73) Spike Call plays the role of King Neptune during a crossing the line ceremony aboard the ship. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Clemente A. Lynch/Released)

Perhaps the most well-known is the “Order of the Shellback,” given to those sailors who have crossed the equator. The “Crossing the Line” ceremony has been portrayed both in the PBS documentary series “Carrier,” as well as being the plot point for an episode of “JAG” in the 1990s.

But there is more than one kind of shellback.

If you cross the equator at the International Date Line (about 900 miles east of Nauru), you become a “Golden Shellback” (since those who cross the International Date Line are called Golden Dragons).

If you cross the equator at the Prime Meridian (a position about 460 miles to the west of Sao Tome and Principe), you become an “Emerald Shellback.”

Family of fallen soldier encourages others to ‘live like John’
Crewmembers aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Mohawk (WMEC 913) line up on the flight deck and make sounds like a whale to call to the whales as part of their shellback ceremony. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by OS3 Vicente Arechiga)

Now, we can move to some lesser-known, and even dubious orders.

The “Order of the Caterpillar” is awarded to anyone who has to leave a plane on the spur of the moment due to the plane being unable to continue flying. You even get a golden caterpillar pin.

The eyes of the caterpillar will then explain the circumstances of said departure. The Naval History and Heritage Command, for instance, notes that ruby red eyes denote a midair collision.

Family of fallen soldier encourages others to ‘live like John’

Then, there is the becoming a member of the “Goldfish Club.” That involves spending time in a life raft. If you’re in the raft for more than 24 hours, you become a “Sea Squatter.”

Family of fallen soldier encourages others to ‘live like John’

Using the Panama Canal makes you a member of the “Order of the Ditch.”

Family of fallen soldier encourages others to ‘live like John’

Oh, and in case you are wondering, crossing the Antarctic Circle makes you a “Red Nose.”

Articles

Here’s how to make it to the CrossFit Games while on active duty

Think you can hack competing as a top CrossFit athlete while on active duty? Former Navy SEAL and top CrossFit athlete Josh Bridges thinks so, too.


Bridges, who while a member of SEAL Team 3 placed second in the 2011 worldwide CrossFit championship, known as the Games, told Military.com that given enough motivation, dedication and a friendly command, an active duty athlete could have what it takes.

“As long you had the right command who was willing to be like ‘yeah, we’ll let you train’ – as long as you’re doing your job and getting all that stuff done, why not?” Bridges told Military.com during a recent interview. “I think it’s doable.”

Since 2011 when he first competed while on active duty, Games-level CrossFit competition has shifted from a field of athletes who hold full time jobs outside of the sport, to athletes who train fulltime. That change, Bridges said, would undoubtedly make it harder for an active duty service member today to make it than it was for him in 2011.

Family of fallen soldier encourages others to ‘live like John’
DoD photo by Sgt. Ruth Pagan.

Still, he said “If you really want to be a competitive athlete and be in the military at the same time, it’s doable. You’re going to have to put in long hours, and when your friends and buddies are going out to the bars on the weekends, you’re not going to be able to. … There’s going to be some sacrifices you’re going to have to be willing to make.”

To make the Games while on active duty he said he had to get permission from his Chief to miss some training. He also had to sacrifice a lot of time at home.

Also read: This former NFL player started a gym to help wounded warriors

“It was tough,” he said. “There were definitely days where I’d be out doing land warfare drills in 105 degree temperatures, and then on a one or two hour break in the middle of the day, I’d have to go into the gym and train. You definitely had to set your priorities right and just be like ‘this is what I have to do if I want to go to the Games. It is what it is.'”

Competing at Games level and successfully training as a SEAL share some of the same skills, Bridges said, in that sometimes you have to just “shut your brain off” about the physical demands.

“In CrossFit, at the Games, you’re going to be asked to do workouts that you’ve never done and movements that you’ve never practiced,” he said. “Being a SEAL is the same way – you almost have to shut your brain off and stop thinking. …You definitely have to be 110 percent into it.”

Family of fallen soldier encourages others to ‘live like John’
DoD Photo by Staff Sgt. Jeremy Ross

Bridges, 34, finished first this year in CrossFit’s California regional Games qualifier and will compete in the Games in Madison, Wisconsin August 3 to 6. Bridges left the Navy in 2015 as an E-6, and spent the last three years of his active duty time in a training command as a master training specialist while rehabbing from knee surgery for a torn ACL, PCL and MCL sustained during deployment.

Anyone familiar with CrossFit knows that thanks to the sport’s focus on movements that rely heavily on knee strength and mobility, including heavy barbell and odd weight work, getting back into competition shape after a major knee injury is no small feat. But Bridges said he keeps the fire burning by focusing on his goals.

“It’s not easy, for sure, to sit there and go into the gym day in and day out and grind, and grind and grind,” he said. “When I went to start competing I had a goal to win the Games. I fell just short. After the injury I was like ‘hey, you can have same goes, it’s just really going to be hard. … I’m a little hard-headed sometimes, that once I have that goal, I’m going to make it happen no matter what.”
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This is why ACUs have buttons on their pants and a zipper on the blouse

The U.S. military’s uniform history is one of tradition and tactical purpose. Many tiny details on our uniforms date back centuries. The different colors in the Army’s dress blues are a call back to the days when soldiers on horseback would take off their jacket to ride, causing their pants to wear out at a different pace. The stars on the patch of the U.S. flag are wore facing forward as if we’re carrying the flag into battle.


Family of fallen soldier encourages others to ‘live like John’

 

Something that always stuck out was why the ACUs have the button and zipper locations opposite of civilian attire. All Army issued uniforms had buttons until the M1941 Field Jacket added a zipper with storm buttons on the front. Shortly after, many other parts of the uniform including pockets, trousers and even boots would start using zippers as a way to keep them fastened. The zippers, like many things in the military, were made by the lowest bidders until the introduction of the Army Combat Uniform or ACUs in ’04.

 

Family of fallen soldier encourages others to ‘live like John’

 

The zipper on the ACU blouse is heavy duty and far more durable than zippers on a pair of blue jeans. The zipper is useful on the blouse for ease of access but it also has a tactical reason for its use. A zipper allows medical personnel to undo the top far easier than searching for a pair of scissors or undoing all of the buttons. The hook-and-loop fasteners (Velcro) is to help give it a smooth appearance.

 

Family of fallen soldier encourages others to ‘live like John’
Even OCP still kept the buttons, but added the sh*tty velcro back to the cargo pocket (Photo via Wikimedia commons)

 

Buttons on the trousers serve a completely different purpose. The buttons keep them sealed better than a zipper. Think of how many times you’ve seen people’s zipper down and you’ll get one of the reasons why they decided to avoid that. Buttons are also far easier to replace than an entire zipper and a lot quieter when you need to handle your business.

Dress uniforms take the traditional route to mirror a business suit. The Army Aircrew Combat Uniform is on it’s OFP.

Military Life

5 traditions you’ll see at the Marine Corps ball

The Marine Corps ball is once again right around the corner. Marines and sailors of all ages will gather together at various locations to celebrate the Corps’ most important day of the year — the Marine Corps birthday.


In 1925, the first “formal” ball took place in Philadelphia where the Marine Corps originated.

The ball is a perfect time to get your drink on bond with the higher ups that have demanded so much from you over the past year.

In between the pregame drinks, the dinner, and the dancing — there are many traditions that are upheld at the exclusive event.

Related: 5 tips to have the best Marine Corps birthday ever

1. “Colors. Post!”

No formal military ceremony is complete without the Guard posting colors along with playing the National Anthem to start the night off right. In local VFW and Legions, those who’ve served the Corps’ proudly, often don in their beloved dress blues to continue at that ritual.

Family of fallen soldier encourages others to ‘live like John’
These Marine Veteran Color Guardsmen post and retire the colors during Defense Logistics Agency Aviation’s celebration of the Birthday of the U.S. Marine Corps.

2. Escorting out birthday cake

Typically, the cake is escorted out to the center stage for all to see while the Marines’ hymn proudly played. The Marines of present and past commonly stand at attention during this prized and traditional moment.

Family of fallen soldier encourages others to ‘live like John’
These Marine march forward as they present the well-decorated cake for public viewing.

3. The reading from the scroll

A Marine will stand front and center, open a scroll containing a brief history of how the Marine Corps was created — reading aloud for all to hear.

Family of fallen soldier encourages others to ‘live like John’

4. Cutting the cake with a sword

It is customary at Marine Corps birthday celebrations worldwide to cut a traditional cake in celebration of the birth of our illustrious Corps.

There’s even a formatted script to maintain uniformity.

Family of fallen soldier encourages others to ‘live like John’
Col. Redifer cuts the birthday cake at the Marine Corps ball.

Also Read: 9 reasons you should have joined the Marines instead

5. The first three pieces go to:

After the cake cutting ceremony, the first three pieces are presented to the guest of honor, the oldest living Marine present, and the youngest Marine present — a perfect way to display brotherhood and connection.

This tradition is also part of the Marine Corp birthday celebration on the battlefield if possible.

Family of fallen soldier encourages others to ‘live like John’
Happy birthday, Marine!

Articles

This is how the U2 spy plane is taking the fight to the enemy

Nicknamed the “Dragon Lady” and developed by Lockheed Martin, the U-2 spy plane was made famous in the 1960s when one was shot down conducting a reconnaissance mission over the Soviet Union.


Today, the surveillance jet continues its duty as it searches for threats in Afghanistan. Once the pilot detects a potential hazard to coalition forces, it locks onto the attacker’s location and sends the signal 7,000 miles away to Beale Air Force Base in California. Once the base receives the incoming traffic, the surveillance analysts decode the information and track the enemy movement.

As the analysts locate the threat, the surveillance team quickly intervenes and relays the vital information down to ground troops. With the highly sophisticated onboard radio system, the U-2 spy plane can then assist in choreographing with nearby fighter jets to initiate a strike tactic on enemy forces below before they manage to assault allied forces.

With its incredible versatility, the spy plane can conduct its mission from an altitude of 70,000 feet.

Related: Here is the spectacular view from a U2 spy plane

Check out the Smithsonian Channel‘s video below to witness how the U-2 Dragon Lady fights the enemy from high above the clouds.

(Smithsonian Channel, YouTube)

Also Read: Here is how Russia could shoot down a North Korean missile

MIGHTY MOVIES

No one will stand the heat like a soldier in the kitchen

 

Consider the values that military service instills. Honor. Purpose. Prestige. Service members wake up with a daily mission to embody those values and while on active duty, they are provided the means and the circumstances to do so.


But when they leave the service, does the drive to live by military values diminish? Veterans across the country will assure you, it does not. That’s why the transition back to civilian life is such a hot topic. Finding a new outlet for warrior values is a bear that every veteran has to wrestle and tame.

Family of fallen soldier encourages others to ‘live like John’
From fighting Fascism to fighting Fast Food: veteran chefs of the Culinary Institute of America. (Meals Ready To Eat screenshot)

So what if there was a school whose founding mission was to teach returning veterans the skills necessary to put those values to work? As it turns out, that school exists. It’s the Culinary Institute of America and it was founded to teach returning WWII vets the fighting arts of gourmet cooking.

Family of fallen soldier encourages others to ‘live like John’
The troops, lined up for inspection. (Meals Ready To Eat screenshot)

Meals Ready To Eat host August Dannehl visited Hyde Park, NY, to get a first hand taste of daily operations at CIA.

Family of fallen soldier encourages others to ‘live like John’
It sure beats latrine duty. (Meals Ready To Eat screenshot)

What he found there was an atmosphere of rigor, discipline, and sky high expectations — in other words, a culinary boot camp. And why not? A busy kitchen is its own kind of battlefield and cooks are the troops who serve there. At CIA, students, including notable veterans, learn what it takes to become a new generation of American chefs.

 

Watch more Meals Ready To Eat:

These military chefs will make you want to re-enlist

This veteran farmer will make you celebrate your meat

What happens when a firefighter’s secret identity is revealed

This Galley Girl will make you want to join the Coast Guard

This is the food Japanese chefs invented after their nation surrendered to the Allies

Military Life

5 things they didn’t teach me at TAP class

Over the years, the military has developed Transition Assistance Programs in order to help service members make the change from active duty to civilian life. Everyone goes through the program eventually, learning about benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs, how to write a resume (and how to make it understandable to civilians), and even how to dress in something other than a uniform.


Family of fallen soldier encourages others to ‘live like John’
It just looks out of place sometimes. (U.S. Army photo)

Yet, despite the best efforts of instructors and facilitators, there are some things the classes don’t cover — including simply how to actually get out. Here are a few lessons about the separation process.

5. Your DD-214 is worth getting right.

Everyone’s heard of the DD form 214. It represents the accomplishments of your time in the military. For the rest of your life, it’s how you’ll prove you’re a veteran. So, as excited as you might be for a new chapter in life, you’ll want to devote time and effort to getting it right.

Family of fallen soldier encourages others to ‘live like John’
You might have heard of this document. It has lots of fans.(11Bravos.com)

You may not think the awards section, for example, matters much. However, listing the Afghanistan or Iraq Campaign Medals establish that you’re a combat veteran, which makes a difference for certain VA benefits and can get you hiring preference for certain federal jobs. The good news is, even if not all of your past units were meticulous in documenting awards, it’s easy to correct. Producing a citation is the easiest way to have an award added. In the case of unit or campaign awards, any official document that proves you were part of a given unit for a certain deployment can prove you’ve earned it.

If the first working copy of your DD-214 isn’t accurate, don’t delay in asking your separations/retirement clerk how to fix it.

4. Copy your medical records!

Another important document is your medical record, so be sure to get a copy early. These days, some medical facilities will provide a digital copy on CD. Before you visit your local VA, be sure to ask whether they’ll work with that format. Either way, you’ll want to go through every page (paper or electronic) yourself before you take it to anyone else. You should flag anything that isn’t a physical or otherwise normal visit.

Be sure the copy you’re given is complete. Many members have been in since before the military switched to electronic records; when you ask for a copy of your record, you’re supposed to get both what’s in the electronic record and scans from your paper record. Be meticulous; if things are missing, go back to the records office and ask. Like your 214, your medical record is worth spending the time necessary to get right.

Family of fallen soldier encourages others to ‘live like John’
This is really important for a number of reasons.

Once you’ve reviewed your complete copy, contact a veteran’s service organization. They have experts in the VA claims process who will go through your record with you and guide you through the next steps. You don’t even need to be a member of the organization.

3. Learn about the SBP.

Most TAP classes include a discussion about financial planning, and your transition office may ask you to show a budget. However, there isn’t always a discussion of the Survivor’s Benefit Plan, or SBP. This is an insurance plan retirees can pay into that will provide a beneficiary (usually spouse) an annuity to make up for lost retirement income once the retiree dies. And, while we don’t give financial advice, it’s not necessarily right for everyone. It’s worth taking a look at your personal insurance and investment situation to decide if it’s something you want.

2. You get house-hunting and job-hunting perks.

If you’re retiring or being involuntarily separated under honorable conditions, you get permissive temporary duty (free time off) to find a home and a job. Just how much time you get (10, 20, or 30 days) depends on if you’re being involuntarily separated or retired and whether you’re in the continental U.S. or not. That’s in addition to your terminal leave.

Family of fallen soldier encourages others to ‘live like John’
Getting a home is totally doable. There are hundreds of USAA commercials about this.

1. What is the Skillbridge Internship?

Not every TAP class mentions this program, so you may want to ask about it. This program allows service members to participate in civilian job training, including internships and apprenticeships, up to six months before separating. That means you can be learning your new job while still being paid by the military!

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